A Small Triumph

It has taken 22 months, six weeks’ worth (at a conservative estimate) of my dedicated admin time, not counting actual meetings or phone calls, possibly two hundred outgoing phone calls, approximately ten hours of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons while I wait on hold, several trees’ worth of paperwork, two sets of original documents lost in the post, three shades greyer of hair, continual and soul gnawing financial juggling every single week, one sense of humour missing presumed dead, and a whole new understanding of the term “Kafka-esque.”

But at long, long last, Nick has had his ESA benefits reinstated. Six brown envelopes arrived in the post yesterday explaining different aspects of the decision. I couldn’t understand any of it and had to ring up again today, and even the DWP advisor admitted that the wording was unclear.

I’d had a number of telephone conversations with a different advisor earlier this week, who told me that he had literally spent two entire days trying to unravel the wild goose trail of Nick’s state benefit provision - suspended, reinstated then suspended again for no apparent reason, since he had left County Durham to live in Sheffield.

He had the kind of croaky Lancashire accent that made him sound more like a favourite DJ for 6 Music than a civil servant so I was inclined to trust him. And Nick has since had a nice arrears payment into his account (even though there is no mention of this in the six letters from the DWP, or the seventh one that came today saying that he needed to send XYZ information by tomorrow, or else) so I was slightly concerned that it might be a blip and would suddenly disappear again. But after the follow up conversation with the girl on the phone today, it does seem to be a genuine rebate of sums owed and the new weekly payment has gone in too. At last. At long blinking last.

Just one thing - Mr 6 Music suggested that if I were to give up claiming Carers' Allowance, Nick would get more money because he would then be eligible for a Severe Disability premium. He can't get this while I am getting the Carers' Allowance. If I stopped, we would both be better off. Can that be right? And if so, how have I not understood this before and why has no-one ever told me? 
I have never been happy about the limitations of Carers' Allowance, which seem incredibly unfair and a deliberate poverty trap for people who are working their butts off and saving the state so many billions. I could stop tomorrow - but I have structured my current working pattern around the limited amount of hours I can work alongside the small weekly allowance, and I'm nervous. 

Can I honestly expect to return to better paid work at my age, having lost so much confidence and lost sight of my previous skills? 
If I were doing project management in the real world on the scale I've been doing for Nick, I'd be earning a six figure salary and I would have status. And staff! But it doesn't translate quite like that into the real world, does it? 
And let's face it, it's not as if I'm going to suddenly stop being a carer. I'll still be spending the same amount of time tending to bro, so would there even be time for more work? 

I need some advice. 

Nevertheless, I have a glimpse of something different, a brightness on the horizon, just being aware that perhaps another way has opened up that wasn't visible before.  
In the meantime, I am going to put all the  fluorescent post-it-note-festooned paperwork from the last 22 months into a file and throw it in the cupboard. Then Nick and I are going out for a slap-up lunch.